It’s somewhat late in the day to break my Marxism and Christianity series for a post on the Assumption but it feels like one is merited. There are so many depths to this feast: the glorification of humanity in the body of a peasant woman, the assurance of Christ’s victory over sin and death, the vision of the Church in glory. I’m reflecting on it this year from a bad place. My bipolar disorder has been causing me problems, a relationship has ended, and I’m increasingly concerned about the political situation globally. I’m not telling you this in order to solicit a ‘poor you’, nor to find a way into the world of online emotional exhibitionism, but rather to provide some context for talking about an aspect of the feast.
The Assumption invites us to look forward, to another time and place, when things are different. The collect asks that “always attentive to the things that are above, we may merit to be sharers of [Mary’s] glory”. The eucharistic preface reminds us that the Church believes that where Mary now is, there we too will be.
Isn’t there a problem with this? Isn’t it a promise of ‘pie in the sky when you die’, inviting us to focus on things heavenly at the expense of things earthly? Isn’t the problem with those who are attentive to things above that they forget things below? Well, that can certainly be the case. Yet there are times when things are just so bad that one can’t see a way out. Nothing around makes sense and nobody seems to be able to improve things. At moments like this the sheer promise of something else can be transforming – this is not all there is, there is more to come. It can undo the mental paralysis in which life holds us and sooth anxiety. The Assumption tells us, among other things, that all shall be well, and not only that but our frail human history will be redeemed (it is the body of the woman from Palestine which is assumed) rather than undone, even we cannot see how that could happen.
We all need that message sometimes. And I am grateful to this feast for reminding me of it at a time when it was needed.